BMW have announced that the the latest addition to their famous Art Car project will race at this year’s Le Mans 24 hour race.
The car, created by acclaimed modern artist Jeff Koons, is the 17th car in the project which has featured works by such artists as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and even Australia’s Ken Done.
In another nod to tradition, Koons will present the world premiere and sign his car at Paris’ Centre Pompidou on June 1, 2010, just as Roy Lichtenstein did in 1977.
Koons released for the first time his preliminary design concept for the car, a BMW M3GT2 at a press conference in New York City. As part of his creative process, the artist looked at the history of race car graphics, light bursts and speed. The resulting graphic conceived by Koons is evocative of power, motion and light. The artist uses his signature saturated hues on a black background set against the car’s silver interior, which he himself chose. The design imparts a dynamic race car appearance even when it’s standing still.
“These race cars are like life, they are powerful and there is a lot of energy,” said Koons. “You can participate with it, add to it and let yourself transcend with its energy. There is a lot of power under that hood and I want to let my ideas transcend with the car – it’s really to connect with that power.”
Koons has been in an intense collaboration with BMW’s team in Munich for months – melding his skill with sophisticated BMW engineering – to ensure that the 17th BMW Art Car will be race-ready for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen announced the driver line-up for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Andy Priaulx (GB), Dirk Müller (DE) and Dirk Werner (DE) will race the BMW Art Car #79. Jörg Müller (DE), Augusto Farfus (BR), Uwe Alzen (DE) will drive the BMW Le Mans car #78.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world’s oldest endurance race in all of sports car racing, held annually since 1923 near the town of Le Mans, Sarthe, France. Commonly known as the Grand Prix of Endurance, it is organised by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and runs on a circuit containing closed public roads. The race is designed not only to test a car and driver’s ability to be quick, but also to last over a 24-hour period.
French auctioneer and racing driver Hervé Poulain first had the idea of asking an artist to paint the car he himself would compete with. Taking up this initiative in 1975, American artist Alexander Calder painted a BMW racing car, thus laying the foundation. The Art Car experiment was soon continued: a year later, Calder Art Car co-driver Sam Posey introduced Frank Stella to the idea of BMW Art Cars when the New York-based artist covered a BMW with his typical grid-like pattern. Stella’s work was followed by a series of celebrated pop artists: Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg. Apart from Rauschenberg’s Art Car, all these took part in the Le Mans 24-hour race.
Beginning in September, the Koons Art Car will be on view at the BMW Museum in Munich, as part of a special exhibition commemorating the Art Car program’s 35th anniversary.
:with BMW Media Release